In Finland, as well as in other parts of Scandinavia and northern Europe, it is customary to make intricate mobiles, known as a ‘himmeli, out of lengths of wheat or rye straws at Christmas. I always remember enjoying doing this as a child as the result was so delicate and beautiful to look at… indeed, this is still considered to be the quintessential Finnish Christmas decoration! We would hang our ‘himmeli’ right above the dining table as was the custom, since traditionally this ensured a good harvest for the coming year. The mobile would then be displayed and admired from Christmas right until Midsummer.

The structure of a classic himmeli can be visually striking, with all sorts of interlocking geometrical shapes, but it is also possible to re-interpret this traditional mobile model in a more personalized way. For example, it is easy to construct a basic framework for a home-made mobile using pieces of straw, cane or bamboo, based on a simple grid structure, then tied together with short pieces of string or raffia. Alternatively, use drinking straws threaded through with narrow thread to create a geometric framework, to make the basic structure.

For a festive interpretation, collect together a selection of aromatic items to decorate your mobile such as cinnamon sticks, star anise, bay leaves, dried orange or apple rings as well as ‘found’ decorative objects such as fir cones or dried flower pods. The scent of the mobile can be enhanced by adding a few drops of a spicy or woody essential oil, such as cedarwood, cypress or clove oil to the surface of your ‘found’ items.

Then using your basic grid frame as the support, attach your selected objects to the canes using lengths of pretty ribbon or colored raffia. You can be imaginative in attaching each piece, using different lengths of thread to create an attractive visual effect … you will just need to make sure that the finished item is balanced so it hangs correctly. In my experience, both adults and children love making mobiles … and the results can be truly spectacular!